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Preview: Black Tape #1

Black Tape #1

by Dan Panosian (W, C/A), Dalibor Talajić (A), Ive Svorcina (C) & Steve Wands (L)
In Stores: Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Diamond Code: DEC221163 (Cover A by Dan Panosian), DEC221164 (Cover B by Mike Deodato, Jr.), DEC221165 (Cover C by Chris Ferguson), DEC221166 (1:15 Incentive Cover D by Dan Panosian)

Jack King was a rock’n’roll god who projected a stage persona on par with the devil. After Jack dies on stage, his widow, Cindy, grapples with grief and struggles to protect his legacy, unaware that she is being surrounded by dark forces that covet the master tapes to Jack’s final, unreleased album – a heavy metal masterpiece that just might open a doorway to hell.

Black Tape #1

Black Tape #1 is a solid start of the music ending

Black Tape #1

Jack King was a rock’n’roll god who projected a stage persona on par with the devil. Jack has died leaving a legacy and a widow in Cindy. Black Tape #1 delivers a debut focused on grief, the parasitic nature of celebrity, and something a bit more ominous.

Written by Dan Panosian, Black Tape #1 is an interesting debut mainly focused on a grieving widow and teasing what has happened and what’s to come. Through Cindy, we learn about Jack and his larger than life persona. He’s a true rockstar but one who wanted to move on from it all. Panosian hints at dissatisfaction with his label and an attempt to pivot from the life Jack was living to something else.

And that pivot is one of the more intriguing aspects of Black Tape #1. Jack lived the rock star life. We’re shown some performances, there’s the “party” after his funeral. But, it’s through Cindy we learn he wanted something different, we just don’t know exactly what. He wanted to release a new album with a different direction outside of his label. We get hints that he was leaving the hard parting to the past when he met Cindy and changing his ways. But the world Cindy presents and what we see around her are two different things setting up a story of discovery to come.

The art by Dalibor Talajić with color by Ive Svorcina and lettering by Steve Wands is excellent. It mixes the grief and the rock and roll well delivering a look that has a slight dirge aspect to it. There’s a haunting look to the comic that fits well with a woman mourning the loss of her husband but also the aspects hinted at as the first issue wraps up. The funeral after party too is presented well showing some excess without being a distraction to the reader. Like Cindy’s experience there’s a slight disconnect and wall between the focus and the world not far away.

Black Tape #1 might open with a focus on loss and a feeling of dirt with entertainment vultures but it ends with an intriguing mystery and direction that’ll leave readers wanting answers to. A solid debut that isn’t so much about the music dying, instead it hints at the exploitation that comes after.

Story: Dan Panosian Art: Dalibor Talajić
Color: Ive Svorcina Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

AWA Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: AmazoncomiXology/Kindle

Preview: Black Tape #1

Black Tape #1

by Dan Panosian (W, C/A), Dalibor Talajić (A), Ive Svorcina (C) & Steve Wands (L)
In Stores: Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Diamond Code: DEC221163 (Cover A by Dan Panosian), DEC221164 (Cover B by Mike Deodato, Jr.), DEC221165 (Cover C by Chris Ferguson), DEC221166 (1:15 Incentive Cover D by Dan Panosian)

Jack King was a rock’n’roll god who projected a stage persona on par with the devil. After Jack dies on stage, his widow, Cindy, grapples with grief and struggles to protect his legacy, unaware that she is being surrounded by dark forces that covet the master tapes to Jack’s final, unreleased album – a heavy metal masterpiece that just might open a doorway to hell.

Black Tape #1

Lazarus Planet Alpha doesn’t feel like a start but a continuation

Lazarus Planet Alpha

Lazarus Planet Alpha kicks off the new year for DC with an event that has a planetary impact. A volcano on Lazarus Island has gone off raining down magical energy on the world. Its impact is transforming individuals, and when it comes to heroes impacting their powers. It’s a crisis that’ll call in the scattered heroes of the world to try and stop it, all lead by… Damian Wayne!?

Mark Waid continues his big picture story with Lazarus Planet Alpha, a debut that doesn’t feel so much as a start is it does the next chapter. Waid brings together his recent runs on World’s Finest and Robin vs. Batman to this event which sees the dots connected. Unfortunately, if you haven’t been reading those comics, the story feels like you’re coming into a movie well after it began. Lazarus Planet Alpha catches readers up and provides the info needed to understand what’s going on but it’s at a surface level. There’s something missing in the experience, mostly the motivation of the “big bad”. Batman’s hurt, we don’t really know why, and various demons are thrown around as having to be found or stopped and not much info is given on them. It’s surface level entertainment that can be enjoyed but you might be missing the lead ups to it that gives greater depth and a richer story.

What stands out is the art by Riccardo Federici. With color by Brad Anderson and lettering by Steve Wands, the comic is beautiful to look at and the art feels like it gets better as the comic progresses. Federici’s art delivers dynamic visuals that break panels and provides a mix of clear vision as to what’s going on but in a way that emphasizes the chaos the characters are experiencing. There’s also some interesting choices in what does and does not get a full panel to linger on the shot. One page you’d have expected it but Federici chooses not to which makes a full page image just a bit later hit even more. It stands out and not known if it’s intentional or not.

The comic also features a story focused on the Monkey Prince who will play a key role in the event. Written by Gene Luen Yang with art by Billy Tan, color by Sebastian Cheng, and lettering by Janice Chiang, the comic delivers a bit more information about some of the characters involved in the event. These backups if throughout the run of the series might flesh out what can’t be stuffed in to the main story but the tone and style is so different it almost clashes with the main story. It’s overall very good but just a whiplash from what leads into it.

Lazarus Planet Alpha isn’t bad at all, it’s quite entertaining and delivers some solid “summer box office action.” But, where it stumbles is its clear continuation of what has preceded it. The comic, despite being an “alpha” doesn’t feel so much as an easy entry for new readers as it does the next issue in an ongoing series. Still, it’s easy to catch up on the major things you need to now, it’s just hard to not feel like you’re missing out on… something. Still, the art is fantastic and worth checking out and depending on how much fun what’s to come is, it might be worth seeing what lead up to this point.

Story: Mark Waid, Gene Luen Yang Art: Riccardo Federici, Billy Tan
Color: Brad Anderson, Sebastian Cheng Letterer: Steve Wands, Janice Chiang
Story: 7.75 Art: 9.0 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: TFAWZeus ComicscomiXology/Kindle

AWA reveals Joe Quesada and Chris Ferguson variant covers for Black Tape

Rock’n’Roll will never die, but it often kills a few folks along the way. AWA Studios has previously announced Black Tape, an all-new original mystery comic series that tells the fictional story of a miscreant and rock idol named Jack King, who drops dead under mysterious circumstances in the middle of a sold-out show. Penned by award-winning comic creator Dan Panosian and illustrated by acclaimed international artist Dalibor Talajić, Black Tape highlights the best of horror, heavy metal, and 1960s Los Angeles all while attempting to uncover what really happened to the rock’n’roll legend.

AWA Studios is adding to the Black Tape playlist with two new variant covers unveiled ahead of the series’ February 1 debut: an homage to heavy metal legend Mötley Crüe drawn by Chris Ferguson for Issue #4 and a new addition drawn by legendary comic editor Joe Quesada for Issue #2. 

The Mötley Crüe variant completes Black Tape’s set of variant covers inspired by iconic Rock N’ Roll albums. Previously revealed covers were inspired by AC/DC’s Back in Black, Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality, and Motörhead’s Motörhead. Quesada’s variant cover brings him together again with AWA Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Axel Alonso, who he previously worked with during his time at Marvel. 

Black Tape is written by Dan Panosian, illustrated by Dalibor Talajić, colored by Ive Svorcina, and lettered by Steve Wands. Issue #1 will be available February 1, 2023, 

AWA Studios announces Black Tape bringing together horror, heavy metal, and 1960s Los Angeles

Rock’n’Roll will never die, but it often kills a few folks along the way. AWA Studios has announced Black Tape, an all-new original mystery comic series that tells the fictional story of a miscreant and rock idol named Jack King, who drops dead under mysterious circumstances in the middle of a sold-out show. Penned by award-winning comic creator Dan Panosian and illustrated by acclaimed international artist Dalibor Talajić, Black Tape highlights the best of horror, heavy metal, and 1960s Los Angeles all while attempting to uncover what really happened to the rock’n’roll legend.

Mick Jagger claimed the swagger, Paul McCartney & John Lennon wrote the best tunes, and Robert Plant wailed like no other — but all those singers served as frontmen in a rock ensemble act. Only Jack King put it all together with his own name as the brand that would carry him to stardom. So when Jack dies suddenly at the height of his musical reign and his cause of death comes with neither rhyme nor reason, subsequent events paint a picture of a singing superstar caught in a web of lies, addiction, and even the unholy powers of the occult. What really happened to Jack King and the legendary, never-released final album called “Black Tape” that King produced shortly before his death? Will his widow Cindy be able to protect his legacy as she mourns her loss? With the intersection of music, Hollywood, the 60s, counterculture, Satanic Panic, detective stories, and the supernatural, Black Tape unravels the mystery behind the lost album, Jack King’s death, and who had the most to gain by making sure the iconic rocker never performed again.

In Black Tape, Jack King was a rock’n’roll god who projected a stage persona on par with the devil. After Jack dies on stage, his widow, Cindy, grapples with grief and struggles to protect his legacy, unaware that she is being surrounded by dark forces that covet the master tapes to Jack’s final, unreleased album – a heavy metal masterpiece that just might open a doorway to hell. Throughout the four issues, the series is full of mood and tension that builds to big plot twists and supernatural action set pieces.

Black Tape is written by Dan Panosian, illustrated by Dalibor Talajić, colored by Ive Svorcina, and lettered by Steve Wands. Black Tape #1 will be available February 1, 2023, both digitally and in stores wherever comic books are sold, with the following four issues available on a monthly basis.

Review: Earthdivers #2

Earthdivers #2

Earthdivers #2 continues one of the more intriguing new series of the year. After dodging the apocalypse, four Indigenous outcasts are past the point of no return on their audacious one-way, time travel mission to save the world by killing Christopher Columbus. Tad in 1492 must not only survive but figure out how to complete his mission. In 2112 questions and suspicion grow as questions linger in how to measure success keep being raised.

Writer Stephen Graham Jones has put together a very interesting series that plays with a lot of time travel concepts. Generally, with time travel there’s a cascading impact of actions. If you kill the wrong person, a ripple will happen potentially leading to a vital person not being born. But, Jones asks the question, how would you know? If the past is changed, how do you know you’re not living in that changed present? Add in other paranoia and Earthdivers #2 isn’t just a historical assassination attempt but an interesting take on the entire time travel genre.

But that historical aspect is interesting as well, because there too Jones delivers something new. Not only is there a question of how the mission should be completed but a question is raised that the mission itself is impacting time and history. Will history attempt to fight back when some attempts to change it? It’s an intriguing concept that makes the mission feel even more like it’s swimming against the tide.

The art by Davide Gianfelice continues to be solid. With color by Joana Lafuente and lettering by Steve Wands, the comic looks great jumping between its two eras. I can’t say how accurate the past is but it feels like what I’d expect or at least delivers enough to feel believable. The future too is a bleak dry wasteland but there’s something interesting in the emptiness of it all. The two compared to each other creates a visual clash that works so well and enhances the choices of each.

Earthdivers #2 is a solid read whose details really stand out. Small things said or concepts thrown in make a simple time travel action story something more. There’s a great sci-fi aspect to it where it’s exploring so much of its concept and delivering something new and different for readers at the same time.

Story: Stephen Graham Jones Art: Davide Gianfelice
Color: Joana Lafuente Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Read

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology/Kindle

Review: Earthdivers #1

Earthdivers #1

In the year 2112, Earth is destroyed. The apocalypse and meltdown of society has happened but much later than so many predictions. But, what if you could stop it by traveling to the past? That’s the concept presented in Earthdivers #1 but instead of some minor event, what must be changed is huge. The goal? Stopping Christopher Columbus and the “discovery” of America.

Written by Stephen Graham Jones, Earthdivers #1 is a new and nice twist on a familiar concept and story. And with that interesting twist and the tense story presented, Jones delivers a hell of a debut that should get folks talking. What works so well about the comic is its split storytelling and the details it focuses on.

Earthdivers #1 doesn’t linger on the specifics of time travel, just its possible and that it’s one-way. Who is sent and why is laid out, with a logic that feels like Jones himself has really thought through what would be needed. We’re also presented with an individual who isn’t perfect. While he’s good with languages, something needed, he often has trouble keeping straight which should be spoken. While he’s supposed to be a sailor, he fumbles with simple tasks like knots raising suspicion. It’s small things like those that deliver a tense thread that goes throughout the comic. How will the mission succeed? Will it? Will our time traveler be found out and thrown overboard?

Then there’s the individuals in the future. How do they discover if the mission was successful or not? That delivers a lot of discussion, something that’s not often brought up in these types of stories. Will the world change around them? Will they go about their timeline? It’s all interesting and a new aspect for readers to ponder. Maybe Columbus was stopped but it didn’t change anything? These are the type of details that’ll have people coming back for more.

The art by Davide Gianfelice is solid. The comic looks great with a nice balance between the eras. There’s also solid detail in the past to make you feel like it is indeed that time period. I myself couldn’t say how accurate the dress, ship, and other things are, but it all felt like a nice trip to the past. Giangelice is joined by Joana Lafuente on color and Steve Wands on lettering. It all comes together in a way that’s entertaining to look at and enhances the tense nature and slight paranoia of the story.

Earthdivers #1 kicks off a nice time travel “what if” type of story. Its focus is what makes it stand out keeping readers guessing what might happen next. While the overall idea isn’t anything new (kill someone to change the future), how it’s presented feels different and fresh and makes it a debut that’s well worth checking out.

Story: Stephen Graham Jones Art: Davide Gianfelice
Color: Joana Lafuente Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology/Kindle

Batman vs. Robin #4 Explodes in December

DC’s new comic book event miniseries by Mark Waid, Mahmud Asrar, Jordie Bellaire, and Steve Wands, Batman vs. Robin, launched this week to incredible praise and even more questions. Is Alfred Pennyworth back from the dead? Will Bruce and Damian finally be able to resolve their differences?

Looking ahead to where this exciting, magic-based event series takes readers between now and the new year, a final battle erupts between Batman and Robin at the heart of Lazarus Island in Batman vs. Robin #4 on December 20th. In this penultimate issue, a strange tremor rocks the combatants to their senses…

This isn’t an island at all—it’s a volcano!

With the Devil Nezha pulling the strings and unbelievable transformative power about to explode out into the world, our heroes have no choice but to do the unthinkable—fall back! DC’s battle between father and son goes global as the Earth enters into the Lazarus Planet!

What’s next for Batman vs. Robin? Stay tuned for Batman vs. Robin #5, and more, in January 2023! The world will change forever! Batman vs. Robin #4 features a main cover by Asrar and variants by Simone Di Meo and Sweeney Boo, John Giang, and Tony Harris.

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